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Royal Mail Update on barcode labels

By Chris Dawson August 4, 2015 - 6:05 am

One Stop Order ProcessingJan Strassen runs the One Stop Order Processing multichannel solution for marketplace sellers, as well as Invoice Paper and Integrated Labels who supply integrated label sheets for combined invoice and postage label printing.

Naturally Jan has been keeping a close eye on Royal Mail’s new barcode requirements and has some valuable insights to share with her customers, but which is also of interest to all retailers who print out Royal Mail labels through third party solutions:

Royal Mail address requirement changes

Lots of people have been contacted by Royal Mail regarding changes to addressing requirements in October. We are working with them to produce a solution for One Stop Order Processing and Integrated Labels. The end result should be a better integrated solution and improved postal services without too much pain.

These are the facts as we understand them

Royal mail are requesting that customers include a barcode on their address label and also any returns label from October.

The barcode is optional, customers that choose not to use it may see an increase in postage costs but only to a maximum of 5%, this will not be implemented until January 2016. Edited: We’ve had clarification from Royal Mail that this applies to their Mailmark products – there’s been no announcement as to non-barcode pricing for parcel products to date.

Salesmen are telling some people that is it mandatory when it isn’t but Royal Mail’s Despatch Manager Online users will get the barcode automatically.

The issues for Integrated Label Users

The big issue will be for integrated label customers because the smallest label that DMO produces is 6″ by 4″. We are working on a new integrated label paper format to accommodate this. The placement of the label is key as putting it in the wrong place will make the paper impractical because there won’t be room to print the invoice.

We are also working with Royal Mail to have a smaller label that will then be more suitable for use on Integrated label paper or to provide an API that will deliver a barcode that can be added to existing labels.

We think that long term this will be a bonus for many ecommerce customers but some may be better sticking with their current pick and pack systems. The key is to work out whether the potential 5% increase in costs will be cheaper than redesigning and deploying new more complex methods. Royal Mail need to stay competitive and so may choose not to apply the surcharge if many customers choose not to move.

A watching brief

If I used Royal mail as my courier and wasn’t keen to change how things worked I would watch and wait for a while to see what actually happens. Royal Mail haven’t finalised the changes yet, they still have a consultation meeting planned for September, so really we don’t know exactly what the changes will be.

  • Lee Pearce
    2 years ago

    We moved over to DMO about 2 months ago.

    Previously we used integrated labels via Packing Partner (Aimco Software).

    Packing Partner already had a module for DMO, so it was easy to move across to DMO.

    We still the pack the same Invoice that was created for Integrated labels, but onto plain paper, which works out cheaper as Royal Mail supply the labels for free, so there is a cost saving.

    The down side for DMO is that you have to put in the shipping weight prior to creating the label, however with packing partner, you can put a default weight which is ok for UK mail as you can just put the limit for the type of mail your sending if you know the average weight you normally send, ie 1KG for parcels, as this makes no difference to the invoice, however international mail has narrower bands so you have to adjust the weight which creates another label.

    I would like RM to allow change of weight without printing another label.

    The other option you can use with packing partner is that you can create a txt file that has all the actual weights of your products and packing partner can read that on opening and applies the weight or weights (for multi item orders) to the file that you import into DMO.

    For me, DMO is going to be good news for us sellers.

    Lee

  • Tinker
    2 years ago

    Our royalmail rep seems to be more interested in punting a thermal printer than giving us a definitive answer to whats happening

  • 2 years ago

    I am not convinced that Royal mail have actually finalised the details yet Tinker which is why they are just pushing what they have. From there point of view they probably can’t understand why having a free printer and free stationary isn’t a good deal for everyone.

    • tinker
      2 years ago

      the printers not free

    • 2 years ago

      Sorry about that Tinker, I had presumed that they would be given that many other courier provide them for free.

  • 2 years ago

    Hi Lee,

    One Stop Order Processing also already has a module for DMO but are very aware of the time saving people get when they use integrated labels and so are looking to find a solution that will allow people to continue to work as they do as much as possible.

    Are you still using integrated labels Lee or have you moved over to thermal labels? It would be interesting to know how you find the two methods.

    Ironically we used to use Thermal labels to dispatch our Integrated labels, I didn’t find it particular good initially but we were able to adapt the labels to include details of the parcel contents and then it wasn’t so bad as we didn’t have to match invoices and boxes to labels.

    Jan

    • Lee Pearce
      2 years ago

      Here is the workflow we used to do prior to DMO and now:

      Caveat – The pre work for DMO & PP has been done, which only needs doing once.

      Download orders into PP > Print Integrated LabelInvoice > Pack Items > Record Pkt weights onto spreadsheet* > Input information into OBA > Print off OBA Paperwork

      Download orders into PP > Print Invoice > Export Orders via csv file from PP > Open file and make any changes** & save > Import csv file into DMO & print off labels > Pack Items > Print off DMO Paperwork

      PP – Packing Partner
      * – We created our own spreadsheet with different tabs for each code type (CRL 1st Class Pkt etc), which would consolidate onto the front sheet which would give us the 1 line entries for OBA at the end of the day, it also gave us the prices so we could cross reference the OBA invoice before confirming.

      ** Typical changes are changing item type to Large Letter from our default Packet option, populating the County box if empty, adding a service option if you want to upgrade for any reason, add a posting date, ie we only send to Germany and France on Mon-Wed-Fri at this time of year, so we can pack the order on a Tuesday, but set the dispatch date as the next day and it will not be included in Tuesday’s EOD actions, also Postcodes if the error is obvious.

      We have moved over to RM thermal labels, now whilst there is a time saving to be made using integrated labels, having done both, i find its negligible, and it now comes under the time saved vs cost saved.

      If we go by the labels sold through your website and i will choose the single label * 10 boxes price band of £31.95 per box of 1000 which is equivalent to 2 x reams of A4 paper which can be bought for around £5.00, so you will make a saving using DMO as RM provide the labels and you will use less toner.

      The decision by each business will be Time saved vs Cost saved and for me the cost saved at this time of year is about £60 a month rising considerably during Sept – December.

      The other thing with DMO is that it automatically runs the EOD at about 6pm i think, so if its down (which i have not experienced yet) or you forget, it runs, which is far better than when OBA used to go down frequently, it caused issues.

      One thing i have been using where a customer ask where their item is, is that i can call up the “Posting certificate” and print it off as a pdf for Amazon messages or prtscn into a jpeg for ebay messages, which makes them more inclined to believe i have posted it and there more inclined to check with RM.

      For those who have not got a printer yet, there are plenty on ebay, but also ask RM if they are still doing the promotion in conjunction with The Barcode Warehouse.

      Lee

    • 2 years ago

      Thanks Lee, that is really interesting.

  • Paul
    2 years ago

    Interested to know where the information on max 5% extra charge came from, this is news to me.

    • 2 years ago

      That has been corrected, the figure came from a document Royal mail had published online and they have now said that only applies to certain products, so we still don’t know what the potential cost will be.

  • Stuart
    2 years ago

    With regards to the barcode o have been told only one RM depot is getting the scanning equipment installed currently, so they are way off having this sorted.

    For me the biggest issue is no one was clear on what is actually happening! It took me to threaten to leave which then caused them to send someone out finally to put things straight!

    Again it’s poor communication from them which only causes customers to move away from them!

  • Bryn
    2 years ago

    Royal Mail are the stand out company for me for being completely hopeless and utterly annoying

    I have a £150 thermal printer sat here gathering dust and had put in plans to move away from RM in October and now read the October date is a myth.

    Clowns

  • Richard
    2 years ago

    We have just changed over. The savings in ink, paper and processing time mean we save a lot more money per year as royal mail provide all the labels for free. Only problem we have come across is exporting the txt file and uploading into DMO. Customers entering addresses wrong with full stops in the middle of their postcodes or using postcodes that don’t exist, all takes extra time to sort out but I guess saves us from maybe having an item getting lost in the post. Mostly the change has been a big benefit to us but would be better with smaller labels as there is a lot of wasted space on the new label and 6 x 4 is really not necessary.

    • 2 years ago

      Can you put double quotes around the string fields in your csv file to get around the issues with full stops.

      We are hoping to negotiate a smaller label.

  • weeze
    2 years ago

    Hi

    I have been told that OBA will cease to exist and I have to use DMO, is anybody able to clarify this?

    • Lee Pearce
      2 years ago

      Just to clarify,

      DMO is the label creating software for OBA

      When you run EOD in DMO, the invoice will appear in your OBA account a few minutes later.

      OBA will still exist, its the codes that you use for the Royal Mail Account that may differ, ie the CRL code may only be used with DMO and the STL code & BPL code may only be used through OBA, or they may just changes the pricing of the codes dependant on how you create your lables, ie through DMO or do your own and input the information through OBA as you do now. This is only what i have supposed, from discussions with RM and is not official.

      Lee

  • Andy
    2 years ago

    Our Clown, I mean Account Manager told us that every item would be scanned all the way through the RM system and this would reduce claims for INR and reduce the number of claims we’d need to submit. (ignoring the fact that you cannot claim for standard products as a contract business customer anyway)

    If that really is the case why do I need to use Tracked or Signed For once this solution is implemented? I’ll have POD for every single item I send.

    So RM are going to provide a fully tracked service for my under 100g large letters for 78p? I don’t think so.

    As usual they are trying to roll out something that hasn’t been properly thought through. I despair.

  • Simon M
    2 years ago

    >> If that really is the case why do I need to use Tracked or Signed For once this solution is implemented? I’ll have POD for every single item I send.

    DMO doesn’t support delivery confirmations (e.g. signatures), only where it is in the postal system (e.g. “arrived at Manchester sorting depot”)

    Signed For, I assume, will still cost an extra 80p.

    FYI – I started this process last week. Got new portal username / password, printer for £150 delivered. Just waiting for the label supplies, and I’ll be able to post (boom boom) my thoughts.

    S.

  • Stuart
    2 years ago

    The main reason for the barcodes is to stop fraud, from businesses sending goods through the RM network. Each parcel (when it is working) will be scanned on arrival and that’s where the business will be charged for the parcel. RM loose Millions every year as companies can quite easily say they have sent 50 parcels but send 55 and if they did that every day that can be a lot of money accross a year.

  • JD
    2 years ago

    We have been told the only reason this is coming into force is to ensure they are not losing any revenue with you send items by packetpost. So at the moment they rely on you to tell them how man items are in the bags, instead you will scan them in. I have been told that the tracking is going go be pretty useless apart from that

  • David S
    2 years ago

    The compulsory move to DMO is good for genuine sellers. I have been using DMO for over a year now and it is working well for me. The DMO system closes the loop-hole for sellers who apply PPI labels to parcels, under-declaring and not declaring thus under-cutting genuine sellers like me.

    • Tinker
      2 years ago

      Me thinks thou duth protest too much!

    • Bryn
      2 years ago

      What a ridiculous statement

  • Lee Pearce
    2 years ago

    Not such a ridiculous statement:

    https://sellercentral.amazon.co.uk/forums/thread.jspa?threadID=98685&start=165&tstart=0&sortBy=date

    Check out the comments by Sweet and Nostalgic Ltd

    1st one Posted on: 21 Jul, 2015 9:22 PM

    Lee

    • Simon M
      2 years ago

      >> Not such a ridiculous statement:

      Agreed. And personally, I have no problem Royal Mail putting in systems to prevent fraud. Admittedly, it’s cost me £150 for a new printer, but I’ll get that back (and more) in free labels. Also, as pointed out previously, a more level playing field is created when other sellers cannot cheat by being dishonest (perfect jumping in point for a Chinese Seller comment….!)

      S.

    • Tinker
      2 years ago

      the chinese dont care about self important holier than thou were perfect crusaders

    • Tony
      2 years ago

      Out of interest which printer do Royal Mail supply you with?

    • Lee Pearce
      2 years ago

      Zebra GK420d

      Edit – I win :-)

    • Simon M
      2 years ago

      Zebra GK420d

    • Bryn
      2 years ago

      It was and is a ridiculous statement

      Its ridiculous because its a sweeping statement. ie Every company that is resistant to DMO is a crook.

      Its also ridiculous as it includes the ridiculous statement “genuine seller”.

    • Lee Pearce
      2 years ago

      I didn’t read the statement as “Every company that is resistant to DMO is a crook” and after re-reading it, i still do not see that that was said, but there are people who “Take advantage”, hence the link to one unfortunate sole who told the world how they “save” money with OBA and has no doubt received a visit form RM or at least had their mail checked, but closing one of the loopholes available to exploit is one of the reasons that RM have implemented DMO.

      There will many reasons that people will be resistant to moving to DMO, ranging from it adds no benefit to the business to plain old “nobody tells me what to do with my business” and everything in between.

      Each business will make their own decision including RM who may (Rumoured – Not Official) increase prices for customers that do not move across.

      I think Royal Mail could do lot better in advertising the benefits of DMO as well as being more knowledgeable on how to set it up, and although i had a visit from RM, i still had more work to do by myself to get it to work for me.

      Lee

  • 2 years ago

    Hi all
    There is an authorised Royal Mail alternative to DMO. NetDespatch is an official third party supplier for the Royal Mail 2D barcoded label on all Royal Mail services, both domestic and international, and is provided free-of-charge, as Royal Mail pay us to provide leading edge consultancy and cloud based solutions.

    You can choose just to book your parcels online, and get the label you need, or we can work with you to automate your order to despatch process and eliminate the need for you to manually enter any customer data at all. Another advantage is that you can then just click once to produce your Sales Order Summary online, and that does all your posting to OBA.

    We also work with many different ecommerce platforms, such as Channel Advisor and ZenStores, to integrate the whole process. If you’re interested to find out more, take a look at http://www.netdespatch.com and contact our Retail Solutions Team to hear how we can help you.

  • Gerry007
    2 years ago

    .
    From reading all above this DMO move seems to be all about RM managinging posters that are underdeclaring their sack contents…..

    Sadly there is little to assist us sellers who have to deal with INR claims, unless they track to the door, which as I have said does not seem to be RM’s motive or indeed their goal,

    Shame really, a missed oppurtunity to put thievies our of business for all concerned.

    • Lee Pearce
      2 years ago

      All business decisions are made to improve the business that makes the decision, otherwise, why would they implement it, some decisions only benefit the business concerned, ie raising fees, cutting discounts, or both!!, but some are a benefit to the businesses customers as well, which i believe DMO does do.

      As mere customers, we do not know the whole story yet, and it looks like RM are implementing it in stages.

      My personal view is that Royal Mail have the infrastructure to offer a low cost, non-signed, tracking system which will be suitable for a vast majority of normal mail, but for that to happen, there needs to be a universal way of recording the mail, hence the bar-code implementation.

      Whilst the bar-codes will reduce fraud by RM customers, it should deter the theft of mail by RM staff as well as false INR claims.

      How many of us sellers report all the INR’s to RM, hopefully with the DMO system, we could click on the link in the DMO back office and report INR’s seamlessly, hopefully this will be possible.

      At present the RM tracked prices do not make it viable for me to use that service, but a lower cost would make me think again about it.

      If RM had a low cost tracked solution, they would win back some of their lost customers and at the end of the day, its the economies of scale that play a big part of a companies profits.

      Lee

  • Tinker
    2 years ago

    I wonder if DMO will stop the posties that pilfer mail , ?

  • 2 years ago

    Don’t want to plug anything in here – Linnworks is also authorized alternative to DMO and has integrated RM 2D barcode labels and had it for almost 6 month now. Its not really a breaking news that RM is moving to 2D barcoded labels, they have been pushing it for almost 2 years now. Although as far as I know they don’t actually scan these barcodes in all areas yet.

    The issue with DMO is that it produces a PDF file which is impossible to embed onto an invoice or in most cases can’t even print on thermal printer because of low DPI, which means 2D barcode is unreadable. Linnworks resorts to generating native ZPL/EPL for thermal printers and direct print to laser for integrated labels on invoices. Does the trick very nicely.

    In addition, you don’t actually have to have expensive paper with integrated peel off section on it. The cheapest and simplest way is to print on normal with 6×4 label in landscape mode, fold it and stick it in the transparent folder infront of your package. You can decorate the outer of the label with your companies logos and website name as well, which looks cool and RM doesn’t mind this sort of things as long as they can scan the 2D barcode. And you save tones of money on integrated invoice paper.

    • 2 years ago

      Nice insight into how Linnworks are handling it Fedor, many thanks – I didn’t realise DMO produced labels in PDF format :o

  • Gerry007
    2 years ago

    .
    Over 80% of our post is LL.

    We benifit from OBA average weights per sack, something that ‘may not be’ happening with DMO.

    Secondly, again 80% of our post uses A/00 padded envelopes which just about accept a 6×4 label., but we also have special sizes that are only 3″ wide, so a problem straight away with the single proposed 6×4 label…….

  • Simon M
    2 years ago

    >> We benifit from OBA average weights per sack, something that ‘may not be’ happening with DMO.

    It definitely does happen, I can confirm (I’m using it). All DMO does is produce a 2d label, and then uploads your day’s posting to the same OBA account you’re using now – same discounts / average weight benefit.

    (Over 90% of my post is also Large Letters.)

    S.

  • Mike F.
    2 years ago

    Our UK business used Jan’s 1Stop for a number of years and the last two to three had switched to LinnWorks since it’s less tedious to run a cloud OM and access this on multiple machines using API’s vs. CSV/TTD imports.

    Saying that, we currently still use integrated labels for our UK and AU companies while the US has never been an integrated market (although we used 1Stop in the US and integrated Malvern shipping system with the ODBC for multi-carrier thermal spitting).

    The key here is tracking. The world is going fully tracked and the future of integrated labels is in question. Anyone selling into the US knows the reality of every parcel needing tracking and this is pushing throughout the EU and Australia. I believe our companies will fully abandon integrated labels within a few months and by October have 100% traceability, even in and from the US.

    Yes, it’s more tedious, but customer service drastically improves and it’s a near perfect trade for time. It’s also better for the customer. Both 1Stop and integrated labels better find a way to reinvent themselves …

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